LIBRARY DEFENDS REMOVAL OF BOY WITH AUTISM
Suburban News - 4/19/2018
FRANKLIN LAKES - The library board of trustees on April 10 defended its staff's request to remove the autistic son of "Real Housewives of New Jersey" cast member Jacqueline Laurita.
The four-paragraph statement, which said, in part, that no one is "ever asked to leave the library unless and until their actions are depriving other patrons of the ability to enjoy our services," was sent via email by Gerry McMahon, library director, on behalf of the library's board of trustees. It is also posted on the library Facebook page.
Laurita's videos and description of 8-year-old Nicholas were posted on Instagram, and quickly went viral, with more than 155,000 views and widespread coverage by media outlets.
The video shows Nicholas pulling DVD cases off a rack one at a time, slapping them, then returning them to the rack. Voices can be heard off camera calling "shh," and "quiet" but no staff appear in the videos. Laurita said she was approached by a staff member who asked her and Nicholas to leave.
"He had a meltdown as I struggled to get him to leave," the "Housewives" star said on her Instagram post. "Not one person offered or tried to help, or even opened the door for us. They just watched me struggle to get him out... as asked."
McMahon did not respond to requests for further comment.
The full statement from the library board said: "It is our joy to welcome any patron to enjoy the Franklin Lakes Public Library and we expect all to respect others doing the same. Our policy of inclusion is demonstrated daily. Our staff has years of expertise catering to patrons who are physically challenged, visual or hearing impaired, as well as special education students from our public school system, and developmentally delayed children and adults.
We welcome all visitors and we happily accommodate everyone.
"No patron is ever asked to leave the Library unless and until their actions are depriving other patrons of the ability to enjoy our services."
Board President Donna Luciano did not return calls seeking further comment or plans for handling such incidents in the future.
Mayor Frank Bivona, who sits on the library board, said he was, "sorry for what transpired."
"I am in direct contact with the family on how to turn this into a positive learning experience for all," Bivona said.